Ben Simmons had quite the weekend for the 76ers and his fantasy investors. The uniquely large point guard not only sank his second regular-season 3-pointer in securing the franchise's third-largest margin of victory over the Cavaliers this past Saturday, but he also became the first player in Sixers' history with at least 34 points and seven assists in fewer than 26 minutes played in a game. The 34 points he tallied against Cleveland marked a new career high, signaling the fewest minutes played in a 30-point game by a 76ers player since Cliff Robinson back in November of 1986.
Simmons followed up Saturday's opus one dime shy of a triple-double on Sunday in a pivotal win over the Raptors. Simmons was the lone member of the Sixers' starting lineup with a positive net rating on Sunday, but the main statistical story for Philly was the play of defensive savant and emergent catch-and-shoot threat Matisse Thybulle.
The Washington product posted a career-high 20 points on Sunday, thanks to a career-best five 3-pointers in the rousing win over the Raptors. Prolific defensive rates in college which have translated capably to the pro level; Thybulle has created a steal on 4.3% of opponent possessions this year, tied with Kris Dunn for the most larcenous rate in the NBA. Despite averaging just shy of 17 MPG for the season, the defensive dynamo is still tied for 16th in raw steals per game. Thybulle's block percentage of 3.7% would also lead the NBA if he qualified in minutes played.
A brief ankle injury saw him play just a handful of minutes in the drubbing of Cleveland this past Saturday, but it's quite encouraging for Thybulle's rising fantasy stock that he has played at least 25 minutes in three of his past four games after weeks mired in the teens. It also helps that Thybulle is rostered in just 1.1% of ESPN leagues as of Monday morning.
For those in roto leagues, Thybulle's ability to drive impressive raw steal and block results sustains real value even when his minutes are compromised, and he's gaining steam as a utility option in head-to-head formats, given he's making 44% of his 3-point attempts and can help boost defensive rates as he becomes a fixture of Philly's rotation.
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers: 34 points (12-14 FG), 3 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 1 TO
Davis' season-high 50 points marks his fourth career 50-point game and his first 50-point performance in his 23rd game with the Lakers, becoming the third fastest to meet this milestone in Lakers history. Davis joins Kyrie Irving as the only teammates of LeBron James to notch 50 points in a game.
Ben McLemore moved to the bench for Danuel House Jr. this past Saturday against Phoenix, but McLemore remained hot as a key member of the Rockets' rotation over the weekend. The former lottery pick for the Kings has endured a long and winding road to finding success in the league, but it's undoubtedly clicking for him as a 3-and-D wing for Houston, evidenced by tallying 27 points in just 15 shots in Saturday's victory over the Suns. During his past four games, McLemore has impressively slashed for 22.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.3 APG, and an awesome 5.5 3PG while also providing 1.1 stocks (steals plus blocks). The scoring rate will surely dip, but a healthy batch of minutes and shots should continue to foster fantasy value for McLemore.
Despite losing to Brooklyn on Sunday, Denver's Nikola Jokic tallied 24 points to go with 17 combined assists and rebounds to mark consecutive games with at least 20 points for the first time in a month. Colleague André Snellings recently recognized Jokic as one of 10 underachievers to trade for after sluggish starts to the season and the revival of the big man's scoring has already begun.
In downing the Nuggets, the Nets improved to 9-3 sans Kyrie Irving, compared to just 4-7 with the mercurial superstar active. Spencer Dinwiddie continued to shine with 24 points and eight assists. As the team's primary creator with Irving ailing, Dinwiddie is averaging 8.5 APG in his past six games and is up to 6.2 APG for the season.
Speaking of strong buy-low candidates, the Grizzlies' Jaren Jackson Jr. notched 26 points in a loss to the Jazz this past Saturday. After a slow start to the season, Jackson has made multiple 3-pointers in eight of his past 10 appearances and is good for 1.6 stocks per game on the season.
Nemanja Bjelica matched his career-high with 30 points to help lead the Kings over the Mavericks on Sunday. During his past five games, all starts, Bjelica is slashing for 16 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.6 APG, and an impressive 2.2 stocks per game. Richaun Holmes nearly notched another double-double in the contest, as both frontcourt players remain key contributors at least until Marvin Bagley III returns to the fold.
In the loss to Sacramento, Luka Doncic delivered his 19th straight 20-5-5 performance, passing Michael Jordan for the longest streak since the ABA-NBA merger. Only Oscar Robertson has a longer such streak (twice, in fact) in NBA history. Tim Hardaway Jr. did his best to keep the Mavs competitive on Sunday in producing 29 points, including nine 3-pointers, leaving him just one shy of matching the Mavericks' single-game record. THJ is a somewhat volatile scoring microwave but is proving prolific whenever he's hot.
It remains advisable to stream and stack against the Wizards; the team has allowed 110 points in 16 straight games, good for the longest active streak in the NBA and the longest such streak in franchise history. On the other side of the ball, we still find Davis Bertans shooting the lights out with 25 points Sunday against the Clippers, thanks to making six 3-pointers. Bertans is quietly putting together one of the better 3-point campaigns in league history.
Heat rookie Tyler Herro thrived in a hero-ball role in scoring 16 of his 27 points in the final two minutes of regulation and into overtime in Sunday's win over the Bulls. Herro impressively tallied 16 of the team's final 18 points, including the final 11 in overtime. There are a good deal of mouths to feed in Miami's somewhat deep rotation of wings, but Herro is making his case for more exposure going forward.
Injuries of note
The Raptors' Fred VanVleet left Sunday's game in South Philly before the half with a knee contusion. Keep an eye on VanVleet's status for tonight's visit to Chicago, as both Kyle Lowry and Normal Powell would enjoy increased usage if he rests.
Doc Rivers told reporters on Sunday that he wasn't sure if Kawhi will play Monday night, which gives us a pretty good indicator the superstar will rest tonight.
The Grizzlies' Ja Morant is listed as probable against the Warriors on Monday. Morant was listed as "week-to-week" as recently as last week with back spasms, so this is undoubtedly good news.
Charlotte's PJ Washington suffered a right ankle sprain Sunday's loss to the Hawks. We'll likely get more specific information and a timeline on Monday.
Analytics advantage for Monday
With Morant's likely return to action, tonight's matchup between Memphis and Golden State gains some value as a climate for streaming in redraft competition and stacking in DFS play. Not only does Morant help raise the floor for Jackson Jr., but Dillon Brooks, Jae Crowder and Jonas Valanciunas also stand to earn better looks with a dynamic creator back in the mix.
For the Warriors, we can keep targeting Alec Burks, Eric Paschall and Ky Bowman as helpful streaming options. This proves especially true, given Memphis ranks 22nd in the league in defensive rating in allowing 112.1 points per 100 possessions to opponents. The Warriors, meanwhile, rank 25th with a defensive rating of 113.4.
Top players to watch tonight
On Friday, Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Cavaliers are expressing a willingness to listen to trade offers for Kevin Love. Love is averaging 16.1 PPG and 10.5 RPG, one of nine players averaging 15 and 10 this season.
Love and the reeling Cavs are in Boston on Monday evening, facing a Celtics team that has been linked to the stretch-big in rumors for some time. It will prove interesting to see how Love plays amid surrounding trade buzz